University students' use of technologies in China

Shao, Binhui (2012). University students' use of technologies in China. PhD thesis The Open University.



Much has been written in the last few years about 'Net Generation' students in western industrial advanced countries (e.g. Kennedy et al. 2007; Salaway et al. 2008; Jones et al. 2010). However little is known about these students and their use of technologies at universities in China.

As one of the first empirical studies of the Net Generation university students' use of technologies in mainland China, a survey was administered to students across eight disciplines in one university during May-July 2010. The aim was to understand how university students in mainland China use technologies in their daily lives and to support their learning. In total, 2920 students completed the survey and 29 students participated in the follow up interviews.

The results indicate that students are not naturally competent with technologies and there is a diverse range in students' experiences with technologies even within the age group. There are statistically significant differences in students' access and skill levels with ICT across gender, disciplines and year of study.

Students are frequent users of instant messaging (1M), blogs and social networking sites (SNS). Nevertheless, the use of more recent web 2.0 technologies that are often associated with this generation is relatively low. There are also an increasing number of students who access the Internet via their mobile devices. Computers and the Internet have not been fully integrated into the university system, and most students use computers and the Internet for social and leisure purposes more than for learning. More in-depth investigation into students' technology practice is essential in developing appropriate guidance towards a digital culture at university in China.

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